Grange Hill. Series Eleven – Episode Six

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Written by David Angus.  Tx 22nd January 1988

The Grid Iron crew have been corralled to Mrs McClusky’s office.  As always, Gwyneth Powell is never more delightful than when we see Mrs McClusky turn on the sweetness.  Her feigned surprise at how Mauler and the others play a non-curriculum sport without a ball is nicely done.

Matthew’s dropped back to school after his weekend with his father (played by the non-speaking Bunny Losh).  So Matthew’s father is presented as little more than an intimidating presence – it’s Matthew himself who has to fill in all the blanks.  But considering the lies he’s continuing to spread (there was a strike, he tells Clarke, so they couldn’t go to Amsterdam but ended up touring the Lake District instead) it’s hard to believe anything he says anymore.  Especially when he mentions to Clarke that the Lake District is in Wales.

For once, Mauler and the others take part in a well choreographed comic scene.  Mr Griffiths has gone to the library in order to replace a lightbulb and after climbing the stepladder, he’s able to spot Mauler and his crew forceably “interviewing” a younger pupil.  After Mr Griffiths shouts out, they all quickly grab books from the nearest shelves and adopt poses of innocence!

Mr Robson is certainly a different character from the departed Mr Baxter.  Mr Baxter’s raison detre was to ensure that Grange Hill scooped up as many sports titles as possible – he was never happier than when his teams were crushing opposing schools into the ground.  Mr Robson’s vision of sport revolves around inclusiveness (ensuring that everybody gets a chance to shine) which means that he’s set on a collision course with Freddie, the first team captain, who believes that winning is everything.

Matthew sticking his fingers down his throat in order to make himself throw up is a disturbing image (which thankfully occurs just offscreen).  But it’s another indication that there’s something badly wrong with him (many children aren’t keen to do games, but don’t tend to go to those lengths).  In the girl’s changing rooms, Susi is equally unwilling to get changed, but she doesn’t act up so dramatically.  She’s simply uncommunicative, even brushing off Mrs Reagan’s delicate suggestion that it might be her time of the month.

Again, those with long GH memories might recall that Annette’s reluctance to get undressed during S7 was due to the fact that her body was bruised from physical abuse meted out by her mother.  Either Matthew or Susi could be in the same boat – with Matthew, due to his history of erratic behaviour, looking the more likely victim.

Fiona and Ronnie decide on a name for their hip-hop venture – Fresh ‘n’ Fly.  They meet in Ronnie’s bedroom in order to work on their masterpiece, but aren’t too impressed when Gonch comes calling.  They send him away, although Ronnie feels a pang of conscience afterwards.  But, as Fiona tells him, since Gonch only bothers with her when he feels like it, she shouldn’t feel too bad.  And after being slightly discomforted by Ronnie’s rebuff, Gonch is quite happy talking to Mrs Birtles (Angela Crow), especially when she starts dishing out the tea and cakes.

Mrs Reagan’s new beau, Simon, continues to irritate Laura.  Mind you, it’s hard not to feel slightly creeped out after he tells her that he wasn’t academically inclined at school – instead he spent most of his time watching the girls play tennis.  It’s when he then asks Laura if she plays tennis that you can’t help but squirm a little.  But Simon’s leering and boorish behaviour doesn’t seem to bother Laura’s mother, who locks lips with him as soon as her daughter exits the room.  Cue Laura standing by the door, looking on disapprovingly ….

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